Hands-on activities in the garden for parents and children to do together

A light box ensures that seedlings do not become stretched, thin and weak as they seek light.  Weak seedlings do not grow into strong plants.  When the light box is constructed place a tray in the bottom for the pots of seeds.  Position it on a table facing the window – video/….

Sprout early potatoes indoors for a few weeks at this time of the year to get them off to a head-start.  The ground outside is often too cold for planting them into it.  When the sprouts are about 2.5cm high plant them into a bed or a bag –  video/….

Make bio-degradable pots using the cardboard tubes from paper kitchen towels.  These can be filled with peat-free compost for sowing mangetout peas or ordinary peas in them and using a light box to make sure that their seedlings don’t get stringy and weak. The cardboard containers save on plastic use and biodegrade in the ground naturally –  video/….

Grow new potatoes in a hessian sack or a container.  Many people don’t have access to a garden with raised beds.  This shouldn’t prevent anyone from not growing these delicious vegetables, however. Hessian bags or plastic bags such as the ones used in stores such as Ikea are ideal for growing early potatoes – video/….

Ordinary peas are easy to grow.  They can be sown indoors now in an old gutter pipe or window box.  Kelvedon Wonder is a good choice.  The contents of the gutter pipe can be later transferred to a raised bed.  If you don’t have a raised bed sow the peas indoors in a window box filled with peat-free potting compost.  Move it outdoors in April – video/….

If you have a raised bed you can sow the potatoes directly into the bed now, but it is better to get them off to a head-start first by sprouting or chitting them indoors. Watch out for frost which can kill emerging stalks. Cover with horticultural fleece or old newspapers if frost threatens at night – video/….

Mangetout or sugar snap peas are very easy to grow and of course are delicious to eat and very nutritious.  Start them off indoors in pots using a light box to ensure that they don’t get stringy.  Plant them outside in a bag of compost or raised bed in April after constructing a wigwam for the peas to scramble upwards on – video/….

It is a very interesting activity to sow carrots in a dustbin or in a tall pot. Carrots are easy to grow but it’s important to remember that the tiny seeds won’t germinate in soil temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius. Also, the carrot root-fly likes to lay her eggs in the young carrots and the grubs that emerge later can destroy your crop – video/….

The days are lengthening, the soil is warming up, the restrictions are narrowing everyone’s world. In these worst of times it can be the best of times to engage children with gardening and the outdoors, even if that outdoors has a limited horizon. Following are simple and fulfilling gardening tasks to engage even the most reluctant of gardeners. 
1. Task: Sow peas in a window box
2. Task: Sow spring onions or scallions in a milk carton
3. Task: Grow marrowfat peas